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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Tune of the Week 1/29/2010: Flying Indian (Waltz)

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

ScottK - Posted - 01/28/2010:  19:20:20

Hi All,

I have a twofer for you this week. Here’s the (long winded) story…

I had a hard time making up my mind which tune to choose for TOTW this time. Too many great tunes to choose from! A couple weeks ago I had finally settled on Ways of the World, just because it's a great tune and it hasn't been a TOTW yet. Then bblizard mentioned John Morgan Salyer's Fire in the Mountain over in the Favorite new (new to you) song? thread. That's another great tune that I learned from Lisa Ornstein last year that deserves more exposure. So I changed my mind and decided to do that one. But then gail64 started the Regional banjo styles—North Carolina piedmont thread and that reminded me that she has a great recording of Lily of the Valley on her BHO music page. I learned that tune a couple years ago from Joe Moore and it's yet another great tune that deserves more exposure. So I changed my mind again. But while I was looking for information on Lily of the Valley, I tripped over this great web site with recordings of D Tunes of Roscoe Parish and Luther Davis from OTMCN 2006, Alice Gerrard and Brad Leftwich. In addition to Lily of the Valley it has recordings of Flying Indian. There's a reel called Flying Indian that's fairly common, but this one's a waltz. Turns out that it's a waltz that I also learned from Joe Moore, but he didn’t know the name of it. He thought it might be something like Flying Indian or Flying Engine, but he wasn't sure. And I could never find a recording of it or other information to confirm the name. I posted a version under "Name that Waltz" on my BHO music page at one point, but nobody identified it. So now I have a name for it and a recording of Alice Gerrard and Brad Leftwich playing it! I was so excited I decided to make Flying Indian my TOTW. I'm easily excited.

Interestingly, that "D Tunes" web site has a recording labeled "Roscoe Parish's version of Flying Indian". This tune shows up elsewhere as "Roscoe’s Waltz". About Roscoe's Waltz The Fiddler's Companion says:

ROSCOE'S WALTZ. AKA – "Roscoe Parish Waltz." Old-Time, Waltz. AAB. Recorded by Hart & Blech and Bruce Molsky, learned from Roscoe Parish. The tune is a crooked waltz-time version of the Scottish jig "Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre." Kerry Blech notes that he later found an almost note-for-note verson of "Muckin'" in Samuel Bayard's book Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife. Bruce Molsky – "Warring Cats." Hart & Blech – "A Devil of a Row."

I found this YouTube video of Bernard Smith playing Muckin' o' Geordie's Byre on fiddle and can definitely hear the family resemblance.

Since the "D Tunes" web site labels one tune "Roscoe Parish's version of Flying Indian", that implies the tune labeled "Flying Indian" is Luther Davis' version, but I don't know.

Don Mussell has posted some good pictures of Luther Davis. You can find just a bit of info about both Luther Davis and Roscoe Parish in Music Makers of the Blue Ridge Plateau. There's a bit more info about Luther Davis in Arts In Earnest: North Carolina Folklife.

You can here my version of Flying Indian on my BHO music page (I just renamed my old "Name that Waltz" recording). I've also posted a tab for this version on the BHO tab page. I don't think the tab is right for the transition from the B part back to the A part, but if you get that far with the tab you'll figure it out.

And Lily of the Valley is still a great tune that deserves more exposure. Since Lily of the Valley and Flying Indian both seem to come from the playing of Luther Davis and Roscoe Parish, I thought it made sense to include both in this week's TOTW. Hence the twofer. I've posted a recording and tab for Lily of the Valley, too. But you should really do yourself a favor and listen to Gail's recording of Lily of the Valley!


bblizard - Posted - 01/29/2010:  10:54:36


Thanks for the post. That's a nice little page with Alice Gerrard playing tunes - the Flying Indians are great - I had never heard them. The Shelor family of Virginia does another tune called Flying Indian with piano and fiddle. I hve it on "Eight Miles Apart" LP done (one side is the Shelors and the other is the Kimble Family) from years ago. Also liked your banjo recording of the waltz a lot -inspired me to learn a few tunes new to me!

ramjo - Posted - 01/29/2010:  12:03:21

Yes, what bblizard said. I really enjoyed your approach in your version. Great playing, as is all your stuff up there.

LyleK - Posted - 01/31/2010:  07:12:37

Yes, picking JUST one tune may be the hardest part of doing a TOTW. Great picks, both, here! I have one pretty trivial question about the tabs. You use some alternate string hammer-ons where my inclination would be to drop-thumb. For example, the second note of Lily of the Valley you have a hammer-on to the 2nd fret on the third string, where I would use a drop-thumb instead. I've now tried it both ways and hear no difference in the sound. So I think the only difference is one of habit. Is that the way you see it, or is there some reason to prefer alternate-string hammer-ons to drop-thumb when going to a lower string than the one just hit by the index or middle finger?

tfaux - Posted - 01/31/2010:  08:02:12

Really fine all around. Sweet tune, well played, and great tone on the banjo.

Originally posted by LyleK

I've now tried it both ways and hear no difference in the sound. So I think the only difference is one of habit. Is that the way you see it, or is there some reason to prefer alternate-string hammer-ons to drop-thumb when going to a lower string than the one just hit by the index or middle finger?

I think there's always some slight difference between a left-hand pluck and a drop thumb. It may be inaudible, but they feel different in the playing and so fit into the flow of the tune differently.
But this is a pretty fine hair; thanks for posting.


ScottK - Posted - 01/31/2010:  08:47:48

Thanks for the comments guys! Regarding ASHO's vs drop thumbs, I tend to use them pretty interchangeably in places like that second note of Lily of the Valley. I tend to use a drop thumb if I want more volume, but sometimes I get a smoother flow with an ASHO. So on a tune like Lily of the Valley I go back and forth playing it both ways trying to decide which way I like better and it changes from day to day.


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